The Opening Kickoff: The Tumultuous Birth of a Football Nation

The Opening Kickoff: The Tumultuous Birth of a Football Nation

by Dave Revsine


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It’s America’s most popular sport, played by thousands, watched by millions, and generating billions in revenues every year. It’s also America’s most controversial sport, haunted by the specter of life-threatening injuries and plagued by scandal, even among its most venerable personalities and institutions. At the college level, we often tie football’s tales of corruption and greed to its current popularity and revenue potential, and we have vague notions of a halcyon time--before the BCS, power conferences, and huge TV contracts. Perhaps we conjure images of young Ivy Leaguers playing a gentleman’s game, exemplifying the collegial in collegiate. What we don’t imagine is a game described in 1905, not today, as "a social obsession--this boy-killing, man-mutillating, education-prostituting, gladiatorial sport."
     In The Opening Kickoff, Dave Revsine tells the riveting story of the formative period of American football (1890-1915). It was a time that saw the game’s meteoric rise, fueled by overflow crowds, breathless newspaper coverage and newfound superstars—including one of the most thrilling and mysterious the sport has ever seen. But it was also a period racked by controversy in academics, recruiting, and physical brutality that, in combination, threatened football’s very existence. A vivid storyteller, Revsine brings it all to life in a captivating narrative.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780762791774
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 08/01/2014
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 696,448
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Dave Revsine is the lead studio host for and "face of" the Big Ten Network. Prior to joining BTN, he spent eleven years as an anchor and studio host at ESPN, and he continues to be a guest on ESPN Radio, other national sports talk shows, and many local shows in the Midwest. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois. Follow him on Twitter @BTNDaveRevsine, and read his football columns at

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Preface xii

Chapter 1 "Football Day" 1

Chapter 2 The Kangaroo Kicker 13

Chapter 3 From Scrummage to Scrimmage 21

Chapter 4 Mass Plays and Mass Popularity 33

Chapter 5 To Madison 43

Chapter 6 The Challenge of Amateurism 52

Chapter 7 "The Most Mischievous Offender of the Year" 62

Chapter 8 The Rise of the Football Media 71

Chapter 9 "Bigger Than Any of Pillsbury's Great Mills" 82

Chapter 10 "There's Murder in That Game" 93

Chapter 11 Slugball 105

Chapter 12 "There's Money in It" 116

Chapter 13 "They All Knew Stagg Was a Sham" 126

Chapter 14 East vs. West 137

Chapter 15 A Premature End 156

Chapter 16 "The Most Disgraceful Scandal Ever Known" 167

Chapter 17 "The Silent Protest of the Nineteen Graves" 187

Chapter 18 Football's New Rules 202

Epilogue 209

Afterword 227

Acknowledgments 230

Sources and Notes 233

Index 295

About the Author 304

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